vso labrador clues

Saturday, June 19, 2004

It was Bill Rompkey's great idea! Here is what he has written:

The trans Atlantic relationship is old. For centuries people from the Old World crossed to the new, some for a time, some forever. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries those who came to serve were mostly missionaries and clergy. During the 20th century a series of volunteer organizations headed to Newfoundland and Labrador for both service and adventure. Sir Wilfred Grenfell, through his own charisma and his tales of need in a harshly beautiful land, attracted WOPS (Without Pay) to Labrador. On a smaller scale so did Rev. Bob Bryan with the Quebec-Labrador Mission Foundation in New England. Still later the Company of Young Canadians sent young people to fertile fields of service. VSO is in that vein and part of that culture.
With modern schools and teacher residences Labrador now can seek and hold professionals much better than it could. But in the 1960s and 70s it was a challenge to fill all coastal classrooms with teachers who were more than caretakers. Once more Britons reached across the North Atlantic to lend a hand to territories that still had unfulfilled needs. Rev. Bill Peacock, Superintendent of Moravian Missions, which has served Labrador for 250 years, sent out the call to come. And it was answered in the 1950s and 60s by scores of bright and boisterous British young people, most with good quality grammar school A levels. They had, in the words of Niebuhr, the serenity to accept the things they could not change, the courage to change the things they could, and the wisdom to know the difference. And they had fun. Although I did not initiate VSO, I certainly encouraged it and welcomed it. And they were, to paraphrase Tennyson, a part of all that they met. They threw themselves not only into the schools but into the communities. And they took from Labrador as they gave. They took hunting and fishing and trekking and canoeing and skidooing or simply having a yarn or a mugup with some lithe and tanned nomad of the near north.
Some of them stayed and are still making unusual contributions to Labrador and to Newfoundland. But I know that all of them carry a little bit of Labrador in their hearts and that they still cherish that time and that place. And those of us who remember also know that when they left Labrador communities were a little better than when they came. And isnt that what life is about: leaving the world a little better than you found it. I remember.
I salute them.

The Story of Labrador by Bill Rompkey
An intimate look at the history of the land and people of Labrador.
Cloth 0773525742
Release date: 2003-09-30 CA $29.95 | US $29.95 | UK £22.95 6 x 9 224pp 24 photographs Subjects: History:Canadian
The world's richest nickel mine at Voisey's Bay is just the latest important natural resource discovery in Labrador's history. Thousands of years ago, near the same Voisey's Bay, the aboriginal peoples traded an equally choice stone, Ramah chert. The Story of Labrador is the story of the Innu caribou hunters, of the Inuit people of the seal, of French fishermen and Basque whalers, of traders, of absentee governors, of settlers, and of the fight for life in a harshly beautiful land. It is the story of the coming of the industrial machine and the great air base at Goose Bay. It is the story of great Canadian construction projects: the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway, the rich iron ore operations at Labrador City and Wabush, and, in its time the largest hydro project in the world, Churchill Falls.
Bill Rompkey describes an emerging giant of the near north with all its racial, geographical, political, and social history. Using original research, including personal interviews, and his forty-year association with Labrador, Rompkey tells the story of Labrador's people, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike. Above all, The Story of Labrador is the story of Newfoundland and Labrador, two uneasy stepsisters, each with its own strong identity, trying to share a common house.
Review quotes
"An ambitious undertaking that mixes history with personal observation. Few could match Senator Rompkey's knowledge of Labrador, and it is wonderful to have his account of the region. He makes trenchant observations on the important subject of Newfoundland-Labrador relations, and provides a rich and admirable commentary on the history of the First Nations communities of Labrador." Peter Neary, Faculty of Social Science, The University of Western Ontario. "Rompkey offers a concise and readable review of aspects of Labrador's pre-Confederation past. He provides a view of the post-Confederation issues of governance and economic development that is all the more interesting because it comes from an author with considerable personal experience in these areas." John G. Reid, Department of History, Saint Mary's University.
Bill Rompkey was a teacher, principal, school superintendent, and civil servant in Newfoundland/Labrador before his election to the House of Commons in 1972 and his appointment to the Senate in 1995, where he still holds office.
Source: McGill-Queen's University Press, http://www.mqup.mcgill.ca/index.php